Monday, November 22, 2010

Alpha and Omega

Well, Jingle Cross is this weekend and is basically the end of the season for this year. No events until Triple D (probably), and that is first week of January. With the end of this season coming soon I have been spending time reflecting on this season's ups and downs from 2010.

Triple D happened: I finished for the first time in three tries. I was only four minutes out of 3rd, but had nothing more to give. It was pretty cold that day, and ask people who rode about "the groomer" if you want to hear a profane rant. I screwed up by having way to low of pressure at the beginning, and was struggling through town. I had to stop and inflate, but with a mini-pump it took forever. I was in last and by the time I was actually on the Heritage trail I think I was 15 minutes back from the front so it was just a 60 mile, 100 rpm, 8mph time trial. I was happy to finish after I had a total shut down while riding the course with race creator Lance Andre about 5 days earlier.

Cirrem happened: 64 miles of gravel in February. Really fun course, but very demanding climbs as well. I was glad to ride the singlespeed, and ended up riding almost the entire race with Shockey who was (foolishly) fixed. I had a little bit of cramping, but was able to quickly take care of them. I ended up 3rd ss and think that my time would have been much better if I was on my cross bike. The roads were firmer than I thought they would be, but I played it safe.

Ouachita 60 mile happened: I finished ok on the SS. I was in much better placing and had a small melt down. I had some flat tire issues. I thought the 60 mile this year was harder than the 80 the year before. They reversed the route and so you did all the nasty climbs first. The problem is that some of the climbs are super brutal and you are walking/hiking; so after 30 miles of hiking and climbing you cant ride other things that you would have been able to, and the hiking would have happened either way on Brushy and Blow-out. I was happy though, I rode with Aaron again this year. Crazy how it worked out two years in a row, and even crazier because 2009 I had gears and he was ss, 2010 it was reversed. It also showed me that I could give a good mountain bike effort for six-plus hours. I knew I could ride on gravel, but that hadn't been tested on the mountain bike trails. This was the first real ride on the custom Eriksen, and it was glorious. I had spent a lot of time on it, but again it wasn't in the exact positions and riding style that it was intended for. I was really pleased with the ride of the bike, and still am.

Bone Bender 6hr race happened: I won singlespeed. In retrospect it feels really weird to have won my first 6hr race. I had done events of that length and longer, and I felt like I could really contend if I could be consistent. I just guessed at a pace I thought I could average and compared to other results I thought it could be top five. My 6 laps all fell in an 11 minute span. I really felt as good on lap four as I did on lap two. It was my first race in Q7 gear and was obviously the best way to start that going.

Q7 happened: Tom, Wanda: you rule. Thank you for everything. The kits have all looked awesome, and fit and functioned really well. People ask me about my t-shirts all the time. I know sometimes I am a flake and distant for long periods, but I'm dialing it in, and excited to start the 2011 season representing Q7.

That's the first third or so of the year. It set the table for Chequamegon 100, Dirty Kanza 200, and others.

Charlie Farrow's note to Transiowa rookies. Read it if you are reading this and are signed up as a rookie. I wrote something like this that only lived for about 30 minutes, mostly due to my lack of elegance and use of profanity. In my opinion this is a comment on the nature of free races, and specifically free races where bad things can happen to you. I am very well aware of many of the things that I was have to endure to be able to finish T.I. I know there is bad stuff that I don't even know about. I saw the few faces at this year's event, Mr. Farrow's being one of them, and many of these guys were just beaten down. Tough mf'ing guys, like Cornbread, who killed the field at Dirty Kanza; just worked over by the roads and the weather. There is a difference between being able to ride a long distance, and having what I assume it takes to finish something like Transiowa. I wonder if a system like what they use for Iditasport where you essentially have to have credentials to enter. There are so many free events going on through-out the Midwest that maybe somebody should actually have to finish a 100 mile race or even maybe two. The would increase attendance at more races. It doesn't cost racer's much more, just travel. Plus, it gives invaluable experience in a long distance race vs a century on the weekend. Or maybe you just have to volunteer and work a checkpoint late in the race to see the broken faces. I don't have the answer, I don't even know if there is a question. I think that when consequences can potentially be so grave, I think having some good experience is a great way to show respect to the race directors and other racers. Hosting a 100 miler myself, I loved seeing new people, but it was comforting to have the guys who I knew knew how to take care of themselves.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Where the heck have I been?

Its been a over a month since I wrote something. Night Nonsense happened and was successful I think. I switched jobs again. All kinds of things are happening. I haven't ridden for fun for a long time and my fitness is really poor right now. I have a lot of work... A LOT of work to do if I even think that T.I. is a reasonable goal. I have been doing some bke work. I have really spent time reflecting on the ups and downs of this season: winning at Bone Bender, 3rd at Dirty Kanza both times on a singlespeed, but also the fiasco that was GWC and crampfest death trudge 2010 on a geared bike. I think I can ride a geared bike reasonably fast for about 60-70 miles. The problem is that I am just not quite as strong as some of the other guys yet, and to be able to keep up I end up burying myself. I am realizing that I can ride for a long time, in the type of endurance races that I want to do well in just finishing will net you a fine finish. Consistency was the key at Bone Bender. At Levis Trow this year, I knew going in that I didn't have enough mtn. bike time in, no one did in Iowa, and instead of leaving the bike 32x20 and just riding all day, I geared it up and had a terrible day struggling to hang on to people who were MUCH more fit than I was. I really think that if I couldn't have kept up due to just being geared a little low I would have ridden 30-40 more miles that day. In just riding that distance I would have finished significantly better as far as placing goes. I think the ability to push a bigger gear will just come. Finishing can happen now if I don't wreck myself trying to ride outside of my abilities. So, now the La Cruz is a singlespeed and is geared 38x17. I will probably ride 38x18 for T.I., with 35c tires, maybe a slightly larger front tire, I'm going to test that. I got one ride on it so far and really liked it. The BB is so stiff; it is the first thing I was commenting on when I got the bike. The feeling climbing up hills on this bike vs the Crosscheck with the same gearing is wild. I am still waiting on a White Industries M15 front hub, but here are the changes:

Fork: Edge (Enve) Composites
Cranks: Bontrager (Truvativ) Race X-lite Carbon
Chainring: Salsa 38t
Chain: Sram 8-speed
Rims: Stan's Alpha 32h
Rear hub: White Industries Eno eccentric
Front hub: W.I. M15
Spokes: Wheelsmith 1.8 straight - M.G. says they're his jam, I trust him.
Tires: Schwalbe Racing Ralphs... but I think I am going to run Stan's Raven tires, we'll see.
Seatpost: the Eriksen one off of my mtb. Kevin fit me with the set-back and it is real nice. Kevin McConnell may look like a hobo, but he does a hell of a job fitting your bike to you.
Pedals: XTR, I'll get some of the new low-profile ones for the Eriksen.

I am pretty excited to be back on the ss. I think a November trip down to Chariton may be in order again. Hopefully I can talk one Aaron Robnett, or one Nick Sobocinski...or even one Ben Shockey to join. Also, if you know either of those guys, Nick not included, tell them to start updating their blog...its been months and I need some stuff to read, cause its pretty good stuff.